Microsoft Antispyware was released a few weeks ago (here’s my writeup and links – scroll down to January 11.)

Microsoft had a dilemma. If it sold the antispyware program, the media would howl that consumers should not have to pay to solve a problem that was “Microsoft’s fault.” If it gave the program away, competitors would complain that it was a monopolistic bully trying to put them out of business. The beta of Microsoft Antispyware is free but it was unclear whether it would remain free when the “final version” was released.

Apparently the decision has been made. Bill Gates announced pretty clearly that Microsoft Antispyware will be free, along with an antivirus program now under development. There will also be a “new” version of Internet Explorer focused on security, and enhancements to Windows Update so that security updates can be automatically installed for all Microsoft products. This is a big step forward; Microsoft Office, in particular, requires manual updates, and that means many users of Outlook 2003 don’t have the latest improvements in Outlook’s spam filter.

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